Environmental groups may sue over sand and gravel storage projects at Port of Oakland – CBS San Francisco

OAKLAND (BCN) — A West Oakland conservation group plans to sue the Port of Oakland if commissioners approve a plan to bring sand and gravel to the port without taking steps to analyze and mitigate the impacts pollution expected on the community.

Advocates organized as the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project say the port is ignoring their concerns. The Eagle Rock Aggregates project would bring 2.5 million tons of sand and gravel to the port each year.

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The material, which would be used to make cement, would land at Pier 22 and be stored ashore at Piers 20-22.

“WOEIP remains hopeful that the port will engage the community in a meaningful process to better analyze and mitigate the environmental damage of the project in West Oakland,” said attorney Laura Beaton, who is a partner at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger in San Francisco and represents WOEIP.

If the Port fails to take steps to mitigate potential pollution impacts, WOEIP will pursue legal action to ensure that the Port “fulfills its obligations under California Environmental Quality Act to analyze and mitigate the impacts on the community of West Oakland”.

Beaton said a lawsuit would not be filed until the commissioners approve the project.

Oakland Port Commissioners took no action Thursday when the item was on their agenda.

Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said commissioners took no action because Eagle Rock Aggregates needed more time to finalize a labor agreement for a fully unionized workforce. for the project.

About 18 acres of land at the port would be used to store sand and gravel before it is trucked to a nearby cement plant.

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West Oakland conservationists are worried about one of the dust from the West Oakland polluting sand and gravel. Beaton said residents were told a building to cover the material was unfeasible.

A port environmental/scientific planner confirmed this view. Khamly Chuop said the port plans to keep the sand and gravel moist rather than covering it with a building or tarpaulin. The building and a tarp are unfeasible, she said.

Environmental advocates are also concerned about pollution from trucks and ships. Trucks can pollute West Oakland when they deliver sand and gravel from the port to the cement plant. Idling ships can also pollute West Oakland.

Ms. Margaret Gordon, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, wants ships that deliver sand and gravel to hook up to shore power.

The Port of Oakland has made progress in reducing the pollution it creates. It recently exceeded its target of reducing diesel emissions, which are down 86% from 2005 levels.

“The port recognizes that we are one of the contributors to air quality in West Oakland,” said port spokesman Robert Bernardo. “The surrounding highways that everyone in the area uses contribute a large amount of pollutants. It is important to note that more than half of these sources do not come from the Port of Oakland.”

“The Port of Oakland has been working on air quality projects incrementally for decades and this is how we get our results, one project at a time,” Bernardo said. “This is how we exceeded our air quality goals.”

Will this project worsen air quality for West Oakland residents? Bernardo said that “the question assumes that the port is the one and only factor contributing to pollution in West Oakland. This is not the case.”

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